The Clebut: Working Towards Opening Night In Cleveland

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"Our Greatest Year," a multimedia play about Cleveland sports and the sadness they bring to all those who dare to care about them, made its well-received New York City debut at the Comic Book Theater Festival at The Brick during the summer of 2011. But the play, a collaboration between playwright (and Classical contributor) Robert Attenweiler and artist/animator/writer Scott Henkle has yet to be performed in the city that is both its setting and, perversely, its protagonist. That will change later this week, when Our Greatest Year makes its Cleveland debut at the Dobama Theater. Attenweiler and Henkle will file dispatches from Cleveland during the week before the curtain goes up. This is the first of those.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cleveland Heights Public Library

Time: 7:45pm

Local Food Consumed: 1 Mr. Hero Romanburger, 1 Big Popper from MELT

Drinks: 2 Great Lakes Dortmunder Golds, 1 glass red wine, 1 Guiness, 1 Jameson, 1 can Dr. Pepper

Failed Promotional Events: 1

The Fun In The Box was a prized late-night item served at local BBQ, Mama’s Boy, on Lee Rd. in Cleveland Heights. It consisted of four deep-fried chicken wings and a mess of greasy fries all slathered in barbecue sauce, wrapped up in paper, utensils shoved on top and rubber banded inside a thin white cardboard box. We would eat this and sit back in Kurtzian disgust with ourselves.

Mama’s Boy disappeared in 2001 and the Fun In The Box disappeared with it.

So, I’m at a Tuesday night “Meet the Authors” event that less resembles the mob scene that might turn out for a Nicholas Sparks event and more resembles an event at which all three of the jittery unshaven men in the room with us could, at any moment, look up at each other and realize that the AA meeting was in Conference Room B, not A. But all I’m thinking about is Fun In The Box. Or, more accurately, the fact that, while driving around today, I passed a restaurant, Belly Backers, that had a sign in its window for “4 Full Wings and Fries.” I wonder if it has barbecue sauce. Or, maybe, if they have barbecue sauce that they could add.  

If they don’t have thin white cardboard boxes, maybe I could find one. Or I could go to the CVS and get a piece of posterboard that I could cut out and fold into the right size and talk them through how to recreate the experience, and so recreate the horror. The horror.

Because food disappears. Along with jobs and buildings and everything else we think about on the blighted urban landscape. Sometimes all three disappear at once. Driving down Euclid I saw blocks of buildings no longer in use, many of them clearly defunct food stops in shapes and configurations that make sense for no other occupant, the veneers that made sense of what looked like a crown cresting what would have been the restaurant’s name; Mama’s Boy (though not Mama’s Boy, not on Euclid, anyway) removed, forcibly or otherwise. They are unlikely to ever reopen and unlikely to go away.

If you’ll excuse me, I think I smell deep fryer oil and need to investigate.

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